Importance of car maintenance rises as temperatures dip, AA warns

Anne O'Grady


Anne O'Grady

Winter season

60% of drivers describe themselves as very nervous when it comes to driving in icy conditions

Following the recent drop in temperatures, AA Ireland is reminding motorists of the importance of car maintenance during the winter season.

In the first days of the recent cold snap, AA Rescue – the organisation’s breakdown assistance provider – experienced a significant increase in callouts, largely as a result of battery-related issues. The AA is advising motorists that older or weaker batteries can often struggle to start during cold weather, particularly following even a brief period of the car going unused.

“While the drop in temperatures is expected at this time of year, we had been experiencing relatively mild weather so far this winter and, as a result, some of us may have forgotten to ensure that our car is fully prepared for the colder conditions,” 
Conor Faughnan, AA Director of Consumer Affairs stated. “If your car is overdue a service now is certainly the time to get that done, particularly if you have noticed some difficulties starting the car first thing in the morning recently, but we would also encourage people to carry out basic checks, such as ensuring all your lights are working. The darker conditions combined with intermittent rainfall can make visibility quite poor so it’s important to light up, slow down and be on the lookout for vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians.”

“Whenever we see temperatures dip, a spike in battery-related breakdowns almost certainly follows and this is particularly true when the cold snap overlaps with a time where people may not be using their car as much, such as a weekend. Ahead of this weekend, we would advise people who are planning to park the car on Friday after work and not go near it until Monday morning to be aware of the risks of battery faults during cold weather. If this is likely to be the case for your weekend plans, it can be a good idea to start the car and leave it run for 10 to 15 minutes on Sunday or you may find yourself waiting for assistance on Monday morning when you’re trying to get to work.”

Separately, a recent survey of over 5,000 motorists undertaken by the AA found that almost 60% of drivers describe themselves as very nervous when it comes to driving in icy conditions. When asked about the possibility of driving in icy weather, 59.97% of respondents stated that such a scenario would make them very nervous, with a further 29.75% admitting they would be somewhat nervous if forced to do so.

If you encounter ice on the roads, the AA’s advice is to reduce your speed and avoid making any harsh manoeuvres or braking suddenly. Motorists are also advised that stopping distances can be 10 times longer when driving in ice or snow, making leaving additional distance between yourself and other road users of vital importance.

“Thankfully the current conditions and what is expected during the week ahead is nowhere near what we experienced in February and March of last year, but it is important to remain vigilant on the road and to have a little bit extra consideration for all other road users,” Faughnan added. “Reducing your speed and adapting your behaviour to the local weather conditions will help ensure you complete your journey safely, while helping to protect vulnerable road users at the same time.”